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First National Bank foreclosing on country club

First National Bank foreclosing on country club

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Ironwood Country Club will close at the end of December because of an overdue bank loan and is scheduled to be sold at a trustee's auction on Jan. 22, the club's president said Tuesday.

Ironwood President Ron Carson said First National Bank of Omaha is foreclosing on the club's $10.7 million loan. The club took out the loan in 1999 to build a new clubhouse and made other improvements to the property at 126th and Pacific Streets to compete with other golf courses and country clubs.

A group of members, including some who helped found the club in 1924, are hoping that they can buy the property at the trustee's sale, Carson said.

"We'd like to see it emerge from this process without any debt."

He said the economy worsened the club's finances. The club lost members, and those who remain have been spending less money at the club, but repaying the debt would have been a struggle even under good conditions, Carson said.

The club has been deferring maintenance and upkeep in an effort to repay the loan.

"We've done it at the cost of neglecting the club," he said, and competition with other golf courses also hurt.

Carson said the club's board offered in the spring to repay part of the debt, but the bank wouldn't accept the lower offer. Word of the financial problems discouraged members and made the problem worse, he said.

"We could not really recruit members, knowing that we had this huge issue hanging over us."

The club changed its name from Highland Country Club when the new clubhouse opened. Highland at one time was a Jewish-only club, a response to other country clubs that would not accept Jewish members.

Although some estimates have put the value of the property as high as $15 million or more, other consultants say it's worth as little as $3 million. The property has a creek, poor street access and other features that could make development difficult.

Carson said it would probably be years before anyone would be willing to develop the land.

Year-end membership is anticipated to be between 200 and 225, Carson said. At one point, it had 350 golf members and an additional 250 social members.

Steve Jordon writes for the Omaha World-Herald

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